Pictures in My Mind

One of those massive lizards
with swivel-cone eyes, on the track.
It’s camouflaged, sand-brown as the rocks.

We’ve not had a foreign holiday before,
seen sky that’s blue as hyacinths
or water bright as rainbows.

At home the beck is brown as peat
but the sea’s horizon’s purple
then it sweeps to the shore in bands of silk –
turquoise, azure, lapis-blue and dancing
in speckles of silver.

I love living up on the moor
and this time of year
the colours are like old tweed
with everywhere rough and raw.
But the sand is soft,
colour of a mermaid’s hair
and when the tide is going out
you find tiny pink and yellow stones,
hermit crabs tucked in shell-homes,
sand-smoothed glass: jade, opal, topaz.

On Monday I bought a mask and snorkel
and swam with dad to the mouth of the cove.
It was an underwater festival: fish colourful
as Morris dancers, striped and spotty as clowns
– standing on their heads to feed
among plants that grow on rocks.

Tomorrow we fly home.
It will be wet and cold, grey,
harsh as granite on the moor.
Like a different planet.
I love it, never want to live in any other place
but all winter when it sleets or there’s fog,
when the snow throws soft white covers
over the farm, the shippons, the barn,
right up…. over the Crag, down the valley
I can have pictures in my mind –
be able to close my eyes
and see this cove, those fish,
the clear, shimmery colours.
I’ll taste ocean-tang, smell saltwater,
hear mum and dad’s laughter.

And I’ll feel more satisfied in my own place
knowing things like this exist,
that my world is so rich… diverse.

Copyright: from Pictures in My Mind (Macdonald Young Books, 1999), © Joan Poulson 1999, used by permission of the author

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Although many of Joan’s poems are in free verse, you can hear that they still use strong rhythms. Her similes and metaphors bring the ...

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